What is FEST-A?
The 542nd Engineer Detachment, known as a Forward Engineer Support Team—Advanced, or FEST-A, is a mobile, rapid-response team that deploys with Army ground units to solve technical engineering problems. The detachment is one of eight active-duty FEST-A teams in the country. The team is comprised of one officer-in-charge, one non-commissioned officer and six highly-skilled U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civilian technical experts. The civilian technical experts include mechanical, environmental, electrical, civil, and structural engineers, and a geospatial information systems specialist.
Stationed at Hunter Army Airfield, the group was activated Feb. 9, 2010. The team provides engineering support to deployed Army units and commanders, such as technical assessments, planning and design, and construction management services. Equipped with reach back communication capabilities, known as TeleEngineering, FEST-A teams are able to bring specialized data, research, and expertise from USACE research centers, engineers, and laboratories to the front where it is needed. Typical FEST-A projects include water and waste water treatment plants, hospital renovations, provincial building renovations, court house construction, school construction, roads, culverts, bridge classification, electrical evaluations and distribution projects. The 542nd FEST-A team has completed missions in Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lithuania and is slated to deploy to Jordan and Afghanistan this year.
FEST-As are flexible teams capable of rapidly deploying into military contingencies and disaster relief operations. Support to these missions includes, but is not limited to:
- Provide infrastructure engineering planning and design utilizing the Theatre Construction Management System to design four 500-person base-camps or equivalent facilities per day
- Coordinate all USACE technical engineering reach back through TeleEngineering, secure and nonsecure internet protocol router networks
- Manage USACE elements and TeleEngineering communications equipments deployed within the area of operations.
- Managing all contract construction for American military forces
- Coordinate all requests for environmental baseline surveys
- Geospatial engineering support
- Contracting services and support
The FEST-A undergoes continual recruiting for new volunteers. The 542nd is now transitioning from a team comprised of full-time members whose primary duty is FEST, to a team of volunteers whose primary duties are elsewhere in the Savannah District but who are trained and ready to deploy with the team when called. Volunteers are required to complete training and approximately 32-hours of in-processing and administrative work, which includes medical and security screenings, equipment issue, Field Force Engineering (FFE) and FEST familiarization courses. In addition to training, volunteers also qualify to receive overseas pay and entitlements while deployed.
For more information on volunteering for the team, contact Sfc. Demetrius J. Moore at 912-652-5437 or 540-313-5502.
Reflections from Current FEST Team Members
“One of the most rewarding parts of being on the team was being able to see another part of the world and be a part of something bigger than myself. At Camp Marmal, Afghanistan, I met people from all over the world and made lifelong friends. During my time there, I saw 27 different countries while supporting the people of Afghanistan.” - Piper Bazemore, Engineering Division
“Being a part of the FEST team provides a great opportunity to learn more outside the scope of your regular job. Although I’m a Contract Specialist, working with engineers has provided me insight into what they do to accomplish the mission. -Terry McFarland, Contracting Division
“Being on the FEST Team is a good experience! Working on projects that directly benefited the locals, especially the schools, was the best part about being on the team.” -Jeremy Miller, Constuction Division